Get Your Executive Resume into the Hiring Decision Maker's Hands

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Why Go Directly to the Hiring Decision Maker?

Career management experts have long agreed that executives' best bet is not to rely on HR or recruiters in their job search, but to reach out directly to the hiring decision maker or at least to the retained recruiter specifically assigned to this hire. The greatest executive resume in the world will do you no good if the person responsible for making the decision to hire never sees it. As one headhunter noted, “In my 16 years of headhunting, not once has an HR rep ever been the ultimate decision maker for any hiring outside of the HR department.”

As with most things in life, identifying and contacting the retained recruiter let alone the hiring decision maker can be easier said than done. Their names and direct contact information are often not given in a position announcement. So how can an executive obtain this information and avoid having to send their pitch into an HR black hole?

First, Obtain the Hiring Decision Maker’s Name

There are numerous ways you can ferret out the decision maker’s name, and possibly even their email address.

1) If it’s a public company, you can take a look at their 10-K filing or publicized company reports. The likely decision maker may very well be listed in those reports.

2) Look up the company on LinkedIn. In the search box, enter in the company name and a couple of key words that would likely describe the title of the person in charge of the department or function of interest. After you hit “search,” you’ll see some advanced search options in the left hand column. Check the box “people” to bring up only individuals, not companies or groups. Be sure to check "current company" to only bring up results for those who are at the company now. Contact one or more who you think may be the hiring decision maker or know the decision maker, and reach out to them directly via InMail (or possibly their email address if they provide it in their profile). If this works, you may not need to go to the “identifying the decision maker’s email address” step.

3) Simply ASK someone you already know who works there for this information. You might say something like, “Would you happen to know who would be the best person for me to contact to get some additional information about this role?”

4) Pick up the phone and call the switchboard/reception. In this day when we’ll usually text or email someone instead of just calling them, we tend to forget how easy it is. Schmooze with the gatekeeper. Indicate that you are a candidate for the position and tell them you can’t seem to locate your contact information for the hiring manager, and could they help? This may yield a name and even an email address or phone number.

Identify the Hiring Decision Maker’s Email Address

If the above tactics gave you a name but not the email address, there are several ways of sleuthing out your desired contact's email:

1) Search Google for the person's name and company, and hope you luck out in finding that elusive email address. You might even get a phone number.

2) If you have not been successful getting their email from LinkedIn or a Google search, go to This site lists email formulas that have been identified for various companies. Try variations on the person's name plugged into that formula.

3) Find your target individual’s contact information on any one of these sites:




Criteria you can use to help narrow down your search are: "jane doe" "company name" (contact OR email OR phone OR cell OR mobile)

4) Verify the email address you have obtained by using a tool such as

5) Send your submission to the email address you identified and hopefully were able to verify. The worst that can happen is that your email goes nowhere.

What to Do If the Decision Maker Occupies the Position You Want

Identifying the hiring manager takes on a whole new meaning once you are at CEO level. It is generally unproductive to reach out to the CEO of a company that interests you and tell him that you’d like to replace him! (This is unless of course he or she has already indicated they are leaving.)

At this level, your best bet is usually to reach out to members of the Board. However, it can be quite difficult to identify let alone get contact details for these individuals. You’re not likely to get this information from a gatekeeper, so you must approach them in a roundabout way. You can do this by identifying individuals who have influence with and work with or service the Board. These includes bankers, accounting firms, venture capitalists, attorneys, and others. Then use one or more of the methods above if necessary to obtain their email address.

Bypass HR to Be the Winner in the Hiring Game

Bottom line? Don’t just submit your resume online and hope for the best. The executive candidate who identifies and gets to the hiring manager first is most likely going to be the winner, so make the extra effort to find and contact that person!